Details of domestic violence claim against Weare police chief emerge

Last modified: 9/18/2014 12:22:26 AM
A judge has granted a new restraining order against Weare police Chief John Velleca, days after his assistant says he assaulted her at her Hillsboro home.

In a petition filed Monday and released yesterday in Hillsboro’s district court, 40-year-old Jennifer Posteraro alleges that she and Velleca had a brief “sexual relationship” this summer, and that Velleca, who is married and has a young child, has behaved dangerously and increasingly erratic since it ended.

“The Chief has physically assaulted me, come to my home uninvited, and otherwise threatened me,” she wrote.

Posteraro also alleges that Hillsboro police officials seized potential evidence from her home and gave it to the Weare Police Department at the direction of the Hillsborough County attorney’s office.

Velleca, 45, has been ordered to stay at least 100 feet from Posteraro, according to the order, which took effect immediately. A hearing that both parties are required to attend has been set for Oct. 15. Last night, the Weare Board of Selectmen met and voted to place Velleca on a 30-day paid administrative leave, per his request. That takes effect today. The board has also placed Posteraro on paid leave through Sept. 23.

Velleca has not been arrested or charged with a crime. Selectmen Chairman Tom Clow, who oversaw Velleca’s hiring last year during an especially tumultuous period for the department, has said the chief denies the accusations against him. Both Velleca and Posteraro have been out of the office in recent days, Velleca on vacation and Posteraro on sick leave.

Posteraro had received an emergency restraining order Saturday, shortly after she says Velleca arrived at her home unannounced, pleaded with her not to call the police and then left.

He came to her home in a similar manner Thursday afternoon, Posteraro wrote, after learning she had disclosed their relationship to his wife, who lives in Connecticut. Velleca, who previously headed the New Haven Police Department, moved from Durham, Conn., last year.

Posteraro said Velleca, dressed in his uniform and driving a department cruiser, pushed his way into her kitchen and started “grabbing for my Weare Police Department phone that he issued to me for personal and business use in May,” the same month she was brought on as his full-time assistant.

Posteraro says Velleca took the phone, and when she attempted to stop him, he pushed her to the ground twice before handing the device back to her and driving off. She said she then contacted Weare police Officer Brandon Montplaisir, and that he responded by saying he would immediately report the incident to the department.

That night, according to the petition, two Hillsboro police officers arrived at the home and told her Weare police Sgt. Frank Hebert had asked them to retrieve three pieces of department gear, including the phone.

A police log verifies that two Hillsboro officers were dispatched at 9:37 p.m. to help with a domestic incident, at the request of the Weare Police Department.

Posteraro says one of the officers, Sgt. Nick Hodgen, told her, “You are no longer welcome on Town of Weare Property or curtilage.” She says she placed the phone in an evidence bag that was sealed in front of her and was given a temporary replacement in case of emergencies.

Two different Hillsboro officers arrived at her home Saturday, following Velleca’s alleged visit. One, Capt. Ian Donovan, said he had stopped Velleca and spoken with him on his way from the address.

“Capt. Donovan said Chief Velleca told him that: There was never (an) intimate relationship between us, I was not terminated and still his assistant, I was trying to break up his marriage, I was overusing my prescribed medication,” Posteraro wrote in the petition.

Posteraro said she showed Donovan and the other officer, Master Patrolman Robert McAllister, text messages proving the affair. The officers informed Posteraro that the department had turned the phone over to Weare after, she says, “Chief Velleca asked the Hillsborough County Attorney to call the Town of Hillsboro Police Chief and order him to hand over the phone.”

Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia LaFrance declined yesterday to comment, citing the pending state investigation.

Posteraro says the incidents last week followed weeks of unsettling behavior by Velleca. On or about Aug. 21 – nearly a month after the relationship allegedly began – she wrote, “Chief Velleca said he would drive his wife to my apartment to beat me up if I let her know the Chief and I had sex on a few occasions.”

On Sept. 8, Posteraro said Velleca told her she had “no proof I f----- you, texts only stay on servers for two days.” He also allegedly said it doesn’t matter what she tells people because he will “line up 12 officers that will say I’m a horrible person.”

“Chief Velleca’s outbursts are increasing in frequency and severity,” Posteraro wrote. She added: “He has physically assaulted me and he persists in coming to my residence uninvited. He has stated many times throughout my full time employment as his Administrative Assistant that he knows enough about me to convince anyone I’m crazy and no one will ever believe me over him.”

Velleca has been living in Manchester since joining the department. Posteraro also lived there until recently; she indicated in the petition that she has been living temporarily at an undisclosed address in Hillsboro.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said yesterday that her office was continuing to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the incident, and would use that to determine whether to open a broader criminal investigation.

Posteraro’s attorney, Benjamin King of Concord, has so far declined to comment on the claims. He said representatives from the attorney general’s office were in Weare throughout yesterday and were in the process of settling up an interview with his client.

Posteraro was hired by the police department in January as a part-time records clerk. She became Velleca’s full-time assistant in May, earning a nearly $6-per-hour raise.

Velleca was brought on in October, taking over an embattled department that had recently been plagued by lawsuits and a highly publicized state investigation into an officer-involved shooting in August. A former acting police chief in New Haven, Conn., he succeeded longtime Weare police chief Gregory Begin, who retired early last year.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)


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